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How to do lab testing for cells in foods

  1. Jul 31, 2015 #1
    Hello. I have no experience as a cellular biologist nor have any lab experience or knowledge. However I would like to know how would one go about finding out what is needed in order to test the following foods mostly for human cells (any kind) :

    1. How can I examine the following food items (Bran Flakes, Granular Sugar, Granular Salt, Ice Cream and chocolate) under a microscope to see if it contains bacteria cells, virus cells and human cells.

    2. Is it possible to dissolve the above solid food products so that they can be examined under a microscope (what type) and tested for the above type of cells.

    3. Does anyone know of commercial laboratory in North America
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2015 #2
    It is hard to prove a negative in those kinds of cases. Do you know how long it will take to look through a 5 lb bag of sugar for a small number of human cells? Of course there are some kinds of cells in just about any and every kind of food.
     
  4. Aug 1, 2015 #3

    Ygggdrasil

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    Such a test would typically not be done by microscopy, but by a technique like qPCR which would be used to detect DNA from the types of cells/viruses you're trying to detect.
     
  5. Aug 1, 2015 #4
    Hello and thank you Dr Courtney for your response. Would you mind sharing as to how could these foods (not limited to) possibly ells (human/plant/other) ? Perhaps by incidental contamination ? Also is correct that ALL cells (human/plant/mammals/etc.) are identical under a microscope but differ only in their DNA ?
     
  6. Aug 1, 2015 #5
    Hello Ygggdrasil. Thank you for the response. Would you be familiar with the cost of a qPCR ? Also would you know how I can find labs which use both microscopy and qPCR ?
     
  7. Aug 2, 2015 #6

    russ_watters

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    Of course. The plant-based foods you are referring to are mostly grains that come from farms, having grown out of the ground. I don't know why you have a specific interest in human contamination, but that's small compared to the amount of insect and rodent debris in the foods. But anything handled out in the open by people will have human skin cells in it. That's the main reason for the existence of "clean rooms" (to reduce the amount of human skin in products).

    This subject is highly regulated and you'd do well to do some research in it before attempting to jump in and test something irrelevant or pointless. Try this for a start:
    http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceReg...mation/SanitationTransportation/ucm056174.htm
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Food_Defect_Action_Levels

    Though if you are doing this because you have some sort of phobia, you may not want to read those links...
    Not even close, no, but the reason you wouldn't use a microscope for something like this is that in the processing/cooking of the food, most cells are destroyed.

    Note that sugar and salt are basically refined chemicals. Salt doesn't even come from life. And sugar doesn't really retain much of the organic nature of where it came from.
     
  8. Aug 3, 2015 #7
    Russ thank you for the response.

    Just to clarify are you saying that an experienced lab technician with a background in cellular biology could easily distinguish a human cell from a fish cell without the need to examine the DNA of each cell ?

    The reason for the interest Russ and hopefully my response should answer Dr. Courtney as well is that we believe that certain food commodities being imported from China into the United States are being intentionally being contaminated with some type of human cell (possibly embryonic stem or adult stem cells). We have established a contact with the FDA and are progressing toward narrowing down the finalist of products or ingredients to five (5) or less. The FDA will not investigate if we ask them to test all 200 or so food commodities or ingredients. Your point about about most foods which are cooked results in much any contamination being destroyed. We discovered this point that at a certain temperature such as 130C and above most cells will die during. Any helpful ideas or comments are welcome.

    Thanks to all individuals who have shared their comments on this thread. Your comments and thoughts have been appreciated.
     
  9. Aug 3, 2015 #8

    russ_watters

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    It would probably depend on the type of cell. There are lots of different types of cells and the same type in different animals probably look similar. But they wouldn't look anything like plant cells or bacteria, for example. I'm sure you could google for pictures of different types of cells...
    Who is "we" and what makes you think this?
     
  10. Aug 3, 2015 #9

    Ygggdrasil

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    If the food has been handled by humans, you will likely detect (dead) human cells and human DNA in the food product, so this is probably not a fruitful way of detecting intentional contamination with human cells. Even if the food products were being intentionally contaminated with stem cells, however, human cells are not very hardy and probably would not survive for long in the food commodities. Even if they did survive, they are not pathogenic and would not cause disease if consumed. The only health concern would be whether the cells are infected with some human pathogen, in which case it would be better just to test directly for the human pathogens of interest.
     
  11. Aug 3, 2015 #10
    With what possible intention? turning some random individuals within the ethnically diverse US population into Chinese?
     
  12. Aug 3, 2015 #11
    You cannot detect intention, you can only detect if cells are there or not indirectly through DNA.

    Checking if those cells are stem cells, that is going to be more difficult. Can't think of a way. Maybe because there is no difference between a substance contaminated between one type of cell and the other.

    Though, one would think that intentional contamination with human cells would result in orders of magnitude more cells, and DNA, than just accidental contaminations.
    Only easy way to contaminate something with human cells is to use blood cells.
     
  13. Aug 9, 2015 #12
    My apologies to all for the late response. We have been quite busy. Russ the "We" is the company which I work for. This company has been investigating a certain company and technologies which we have carefully gathered information based on our study . I cannot go into the details of this information which I hope most of you can understand. However we are working with the appropriate government departments and law enforcement agencies. Until we have completed our investigation I cannot comment much more.

    Rootone if you review my response in this reply you will understand that I cannot elaborate much more. However your response seems to indicate that I have stereotyped the general population of USA as being Chinese yes ? That was not the intended purpose of my statements. Just to clarify we have been investigating imports into the USA which originate from China which appear to be based on our initial findings to contain human cells and these cells have an interesting purpose. Until we allow the appropriate government departments to investigate our findings I will not be able to share much of the details at the present. However what I can share is these cells based on our study once consumed take up their special role within their new host body. If I have misunderstood your comments please feel free to clarify.

    Thanking you
     
  14. Aug 9, 2015 #13
    No. i don't think you have stereotyped the general population of USA as being Chinese.
    You suggested that food imported from China to USA might be purposefully contaminated.
    I am questioning what would be that purpose.
     
  15. Aug 9, 2015 #14

    russ_watters

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    Oookey, well on that I think we're done. Good luck.
     
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